It is incredible that small changes in the levels of hormones can have such dramatic effects on the body and on the mind. Hormones are truly incredible proteins. They maintain sugar levels in our blood, regulate mineral content by directing activities within the kidneys, and perhaps most astonishingly direct and control many of the functions allowing for reproduction. Without hormones, animal life would simply not be possible. So it is important to make sure that our hormones are working seamlessly and harmoniously.

Through the ages women have successfully used herbs to counter problems of menstruation and the menopause caused by hormonal imbalance, such as cramping, pre-menstrual syndrome, heavy bleeding, night sweats and hot flushes.

Hormonal health is also dependant on many apparently unrelated factors; the health of bowel flora, good liver function, elimination, and the efficient absorption of food. It is easy to see how the complex interrelationships between hormones, the nervous system through to the liver need the services of a trained professional to unravel. Herbalists recognise this, and consider the effect of relevant hormones in each given situation.

Today, modern science can explain and confirm the beneficial effects of herbs, and herbalists have the skills in the art and science of plant medicine to use them effectively, getting to the heart of the problem by bringing your hormones back into balance.

Herbal medicine works with the body in a gentle and well-tolerated way.

You can be assured that Herbal prescriptions are always given is safe dosages and that you will have a safe space to ask any questions and discuss your management plan with the herbalist.

Western Herbal practitioners use remedies made from whole plant extracts, and are trained to look beyond and beneath the obvious, to find the cause of a problem, helping the body to correct imbalances and heal itself.

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In the following study, it examined how food and medications affect the makeup of bacteria in people’s  tummies.  Please click on the link to find out more.

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Last February the National Institute of Medical Herbalists brought attention to a herbal alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy

Noting the University of Oxford research published in the Lancet on 12th February 2015 that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) increases the risk of ovarian cancer the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) drew attention to research published in the journal Family Practice of trials that show menopause symptoms can be treated safely and effectively by medicinal herbs ( see: http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/5/468.abstract?sid=ac553b88-7bb9-41df-a146-0be2a1d4e1ad ).

NIMH’s Director of PR Dee Atkinson said:  “Between about 40 and 52 years of age most women will experience the menopause. During the menopause ovarian hormone levels decline, leading to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. These include not just the better known hot flushes but also loss of confidence, nervousness and mood swings. Symptoms can precede the cessation of a regular period, often presenting as a marked increase in pre-menstrual symptoms.

“Increasingly women are understanding more about HRT and its potential side-effects, and many prefer to use natural therapies at this time.

“Herbs can provide a gentle and effective approach to the menopause, supporting the hormonal and nervous systems. Many medicinal herbs and foods contain ‘phyto-oestrogens’ which can be used to enhance the body’s hormonal status. These phyto oestrogens provide the body with their starting point for manufacturing its own hormones, helping to balance fluctuating hormonal levels. The herbs employed by medical herbalists when working with individual patients help to maintain a healthy hormonal system.”

The Lancet article:  http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961687-1/abstract


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Officially recognised by Doctors and Psychiatrists as a medical condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the Winter Blues is thought to affect 2 million people in the UK and Ireland as well as over 12 Million people across Northern Europe.  (SAD.org.uk)

SAD is a kind of depression that occurs at certain times of the year, usually in the winter.   It may begin for some people during their teen years, while for others it may begin in adulthood.  People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk for SAD.  Ireland is situated in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere.  Due to our geographical position, we experience large changes in light levels between the summer and winter.  The dark, gloomy weather and longer winter nights can reduce the amount of light we receive and therefore can have a profound effect on our body clocks.   A combination of a change in seasonal light, our hectic lifestyles, periods of darker days and poorer weather, can result in dramatic effects on our timed rhythms which regulate mood, sleep, wake, appetite, digestion and energy.

Lack of exposure to light seems to be the main trigger of SAD symptoms. There are theories on the underlying biochemical process that is affected by the lack of light.  People with SAD will experience some or all of the following symptoms, starting in autumn, intensifying in winter, and subsiding in spring:

  • Hopelessness
  • Unhappiness and irritability
  • Sadness and anxiety
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Tiredness/sleeping more (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Appetite changes (usually increased appetite and carbohydrate craving)
  • Weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Social withdrawal from friends and family
  • Premenstrual syndrome (worsens or occurs only in winter)
  • Sluggish movements

How Herbal Medicine Can Help

There are herbs that can increase photosensitivity.  People who are photosensitive are usually under caution if taking these herbs to generally avoid light therapy or should be under professional supervision.  However these herbs could be used to increase the effects of any natural light that a person with SAD experiences.  As with other types of depression, antidepressant herbs as well as talk therapy can be effective.  Herbs that can help with sleep and help practicing good sleep habits also help to reduce the symptoms often experienced by SAD suffers.   Other helpful habits that often are very helpful in managing the symptoms also include:

– Helping to ensure a healthy diet.

– Learn how to manage side effects.

– Learn to watch for early signs that your depression is getting worse.

– Have a plan if it does get worse.

– Try to exercise more often.

– Look for activities that make you happy.

– Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs as these often make depression worse over time. They may also affect your judgment about how you feel.

– Try to be around people who are caring and positive.

– Volunteer or get involved in group activities.

With no treatment, symptoms usually get better on their own with the change of seasons. However, symptoms can improve more quickly with treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)  – The outcome is usually good with treatment. However, some people have SAD throughout their lives.

Calling your health care provider – Get help right away if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or anyone else.




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Herbs for Allergies

Allergies can be seasonal, like Hay fever, which is cause by the immune system’s over-reaction to an usually harmless substance like flower pollen or certain grasses. The symptoms of these allergies are often watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal discharge, itchy at the back of the throat.  You can off course be allergic to almost anything even certain food which symptoms can include skin irritation and difficulty breathing.  Most remedies on the market for allergy sufferers are antihistamines, which can be very effective but can also carry side effects such as drowsiness or sleepiness.  Antihistamines generally work by blocking the body form producing the chemical known as histamines (which are the body’s reaction to foreign particles it considers a threat such as dust mites, pollen, etc.).

There are herbal alternatives to antihistamines.  They generally work as a shield for the cells from the effects of histamines.  Here are a few examples of herbs that can bring natural relief from allergies in general.


Elderberry Flower: The flower and berries are antimicrobial and decongestant.  They restore the mucous membranes of the respiratory system and balance mucus secretions.  Hence it is an important remedy in hay fever, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis and asthma.  The berries in particular activate immunity and their proteins help regulate the immune response.


Stinging Nettle: This plant is rich in vitamin k, carotene and quercetin and it is one of the top choices for alleviating the onset of allergic symptoms.  In a 2003 human trial research showed more than 50% confirmed the effectiveness of nettle against their allergies while nearly close to half stated they felt it worked at par or better than their usual medications.


Garlic: While garlic has been famed in story books as preventing vampire bits, in reality it prevent and relieves allergies when consumed raw.  Its sulphur compounds not only have anti-tumour activities, they can help protect against pollution.  Like stinging nettle, it also contains quercetin which has anti-inflammatory qualities and helps to stabilise mast cells to avoid histamine-causing inflammation.


Liquorice: The constituent of glycyrrhizin resembles adrenal hormones with anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects which are similar to cortisone (without the side effects).  Classed as a desmutagen; it binds to toxic chemicals and carcinogens.  In 2010, a Korean study established the effects of licoachalcone, another constituent of licorice, anti-inflammatory effects as well as being antitumor and antimicrobial.  It inhibits cellular activities that promote allergic reaction and has been found to have therapeutic potentials to decrease skin inflammation.

Reishi Mushroom: This mushroom has been used by the ancient Chinese and Japanese as medicine and it is known as the medicine of kings and the mushroom of immortality.  This is a potent herb that offers amazing medicinal benefits.   Reishi contains high quantity of lanostan compound which asts as a natural antihistamine.  It helps to control the release of certain chemicals within the body so to inhibit the release of histamine.  It is effective in eliminating allergic symptoms.


Feverfew: While it is well known to be an excellent remedy for headaches and migraine as well as bringing down fevers, it can also be helpful to alleviate allergies such as hay fever due to its sesquiterpene lactones which inhibit the release of prostaglandins and histamine.  However it should be avoided with those with daisy allergies.



This well known herb, which is best known for its soothing qualities also has a antihistamine action for allergies.


Each Herbs has its own precautions, so if you have any questions about these, please feel free to contact me via email or just phone!

References and Bibliography

Bartram T (1995) Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Robinson: London.

McIntyre A. (2010) The Complete Herbal Tutor. Octopus Publishing Group Ltd: London.






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Your day of summer fun is winding down and what do you know? You got burned.

Here ’s a few natural ways to help the skin recover and reduce the pain.


Witch hazel: Moisten a cloth with witch hazel.  It is an incredible astringent has been shown to have long-lasting anti-inflammatory relief. Apply often for temporary relief. For smaller areas, dip cotton balls into the liquid and gently wipe on.

Oatmeal: This is one of the oldest home remedies it seems in the book, plus it has science to back it up!. You can make it into a porridge paste and allow it to chill down.  Then apply it to the skin to soothe the sunburn.

You can also add it to a cool bath (so that would be a warmish bath on the cold side, not a freezing cold bath or you will have the shock of your life!).  Don’t use bath salts, or oils or bubble bath.  Instead just use oatmeal.  Also air-dry your body.  You could also wrap the dry oatmeal in some kind of gauze.  Put it in cool water for about 30minutes. Discard the oatmeal and use the water as a compress.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Again you can use, this in a bath and theoretically it balances the body’s pH levels to take away the stinging feeling of the burn.  You can also store some in the fridge in a spray bottle and when you come in just spray some over your skin


Yogurt: Apply it to all sunburned areas and then rinse off in a cool shower.  I’ve all heard of people applying milk.. a little unsure of that one. It is best to use the full-fat natural yogurt.


Tea Bags: If you are unlucky enough to have your eyelids burned, apply tea bags which have been soaked in cool water to decrease the swelling and help relieve pain.  Tea has tannic acid, which seems to ease sunburn pain.  You could also try Chamomile tea as it is anti-inflammatory, anti-sceptic and analgesic.


Aloe Vera: Use the gel-like juice or gel or if you have the plant yourself, simply slit open one of the broad leaves and apply the gel directly to the burn.  You will need to apply it a bit few times throughout the day for several days.  This plant has a long history of providing relief due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  It will provide relief and help speed up the recovery of the skin.


Lavender Essential Oil: Not only does Lavender relieve sunburn, but it can also prevent peeling.  Just be careful how you apply it and not too much also.


Burn Relief Spray. Combine 2 ounces aloe vera gel, 2 ounces cold water, ½ teaspoon vitamin E oil, 15 drops of each tea tree oil and lavender essential oils. Load into a small spray bottle and shake well prior to application. This spray can be applied to the entire burned area as often as needed. Store in the refrigerator for approximately 5-7 days.

Other Important things to do:

1) Drink Water and Eat Well: Be sure to replenish your body with liquid by drinking plenty of water especially if you are recovering from sunburn to avoid dehydration. Also, it will help burns to heal better.  You will be able to gauge if you are hydrated when you urine runs almost clear.  Also the water in fruits can help.  So how about some lovely watermelon, or sliced beets!

2) Avoid Soap: Soap can be dry and this will just irritate burned skin.  So instead, use only mild brands and rinse it off very well.  After having a cool bath or shower, gently pat you skin or if possible just air dry.

3) Moisturise: The sun naturally dries the skin’s surface so in addition to the lovely cool baths with oaths, apple cider vinegar and whatever else, use a lovely moisturiser to prevent drying up immediately after you wash.  You can even keep it in the fridge!  If you would like a specific one, why not consult a herbalist who would make one up tailored to your needs!

4) Beware of Blisters: If these develop, you will know that you have burned badly.  Do not peel the top skin off as you may be in danger of infection.  If possible leave the blisters alone. You may need to see your G.P.

5) Take it easy – You’ve done enough damage! So you need to take it easy not to dump off anything, as this will be very painful and also you will have to watch how much alcohol intake you have as you will be dehydrated already.

Yes prevention is the most effective cure for sunburn.  We all know that UV exposure can cause skin damage, age our skin quickly, trigger skin cancer and cause sunburn. However on the up side, if you apply the right sunscreen, stay in the shade at the hottest time in the day, stay hydrated and moisturised, than you just may get a lovely sun tan, synthesize Vitamin D and get some Vitamin E that all Irish skins longs for!

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Its all about perspective!

Stress can harm the body and although this is a well known fact, we cannot stop stressful situations happening. These things are apart of life. However it is possible to change how we deal with them. Diet, lifestyle and even taking herbal medicine are great ways to support us through periods of hard times. But if that is all we apply then maybe we are missing out on some of life’s most precious lessons, that can only be truly learnt through experience. If we can afford to change our perspective, we can learn many valuable life’s lesson and start to blossom into authentic positive people that have a true grasp of reality. We can learn a great deal about ourselves; such as, about our belief system. In other words, do we really believe what we say we do during times of peace and do those beliefs stand firm during our trials. We can learn about our true character, what are we built off, did we react like we said we always would if the situation would ever arise or did we surprise ourselves (maybe very positively inspiring!). We can also learn about others and our relationship with them in our most stressful situations. Even the seed has to push against a lot of soil, sometime negotiate around rocks and still push through, so as to feel the sun and become something more beautiful than how it started off.


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Most people associate the beginning of summer with the beginning of allergy season but that’s not entirely true.  An Allergy is a person’s immune system reacting against substances that are not infectious or harmful. So you can be allergic to almost anything ranging from foods, to environmental factors (such as hayfever) to creams and materials. Allergic indications can vary from extreme symptoms to the more general ones that most of us more likely experience.  These include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy nose and eyes, digestive disturbances and eczema.  Stress, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, environmental pollution, drugs, injury, surgery, digestive problems, dysbiosis and genetic tendencies can all predispose to allergies.  Treatment involves improving nutrition, temporarily if not altogether avoiding the allergen, and balancing digestive and immune systems.

Herbal Treatments Adaptogenic herbs such as Liquorice, Aloe vera and Ginseng can increase immunity and help prevent allergic reaction.  Ginger, Burdock, and Cinnamon can combat dysbiosis which predisposes to leaky gut syndrome and allergies.  Chamomile, Nettle and Lemon balm soothe the allergic response and inhibit histamine, which is responsible for inflammatory symptoms.  Evening primrose oil or Borage seed oil will provide gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), deficiency of which is implicated in several allergic conditions.

Other Measures Minimize or completely stay away from allergenic foods such as dairy produce, citrus fruits, wheat or gluten, peanuts or whatever the food is that triggers the allergic response.  Avoid stimulants such as sugar and junk foods, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco which increase susceptibility to allergies. The severity of the inflammatory response can be diminished by vitamin C, bioflavonoids and magnesium which are natural antihistamines.  Other flavonoid containing foods and herbs could also prove useful as they have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunoregulating properties.  Capillary-strengthening magnesium with Vitamins B and C has an antihistamine action and can be taken at the onset of symptoms.

If you are concerned about your immunity, energy levels  or would like to find out more information of how you can treat your allergies naturally, why not see your Medical Herbalist today?



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OPEN Last Thursday of every month, 6pm-9pm
One Hour For Me Integrative Clinic, The Briars, Ashbourne
PHONE: (01) 835 36 53 / Email: info@onehourforme.ie

Many people are now looking to find trust worthy alternative solutions for their health and well being. The drop-in clinic offers a mini-consultation which takes only 10-15 minutes. It is designed for simple daily problems which can be diagnosed quickly and a suitable herbal remedy prescribed, also to answer enquires about herbal medicines. Any herbal medicines prescribed can be dispensed on the spot.

Examples of Typical conditions suitable for the Drop-in Clinic include:- coughs and colds, colic, dry skin, dandruff, digestive upsets, headaches, insomnia, cradle cap, nappy rash, colic, stress, exam pressures, improve immunity, improve energy, stamina and mental performance.

Note – If any ailment requires more thorough investigation, the herbalist may advise returning for a full consultation or refer the patient to their own doctor as appropriate. Also Prescriptions are tailor made for each person, ensuring no interaction with any medication or pregnancy.

Medical Herbalist, Fiona Gannon is a registered member of the
National Institute of Medical Herbalists and Irish Medical Herbalists Organisation.
Walk-in Clinics: No appointment required! Consultation Fee 10 Euro 2013
[Herbal Prescriptions are extra cost]

Please see facebook page for more information and the date of when it is happening!- https://www.facebook.com/GannonHerbalPractice

Herbal Medicine: for a naturally healthy life


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Is the Bad Weather effecting your Joints?

Weather like this can effect people who have musculoskeletal problems, such as old injuries and arthritis, to become more stiff and cause pain around their joints. But there are herbs that can help!

Devil’s claw and Myrrh are excellent anti-inflammatories that reduce pain and stiffness while Black cohosh works similarly but is particularly effective for post-menopausal arthritis. Liquorice has cortisone-like anti-inflammatory actions and increases tolerance to physical and emotional stress. You can massage with liniments containing essential oils of Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender of Sweet marjoram with a few drops of Cayenne pepper tincture to incrWeather like this can effect people who have musculoskeletal problems, such as old injuries and arthritis, to become more stiff and cause pain around their joints. But there are herbs that can help! Devil’s claw and Myrrh are excellent anti-inflammatories that reduce pain and stiffness while Black cohosh works similarly but is particularly effective for post-menopausal arthritis. Liquorice has cortisone-like anti-inflammatory actions and increases tolerance to physical and emotional stress. You can massage with liniments containing essential oils of Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender of Sweet marjoram with a few drops of Cayenne pepper tincture to increase circulation to the joints and decrease pain. Other measurements include supplements of evening primrose oil, glucosamine sulphate, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Rose hip, omega-3 oils and selenium protect and promote repair of cartilage. Of course there are a whole host of other herbs that can be helpful. Often underlying causes which can exaggerate the problem can include poor diet, digestive problems, dysbiosis, toxicity, free radical damage, stress, age and chronic infection. If you seek advice from a herbalist, they will be able to look at the underlying factors as well as give you the herbs you need!

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